Isotretinoin (trade name: Accutane, Roche) is a powerful drug used in the treatment of acne. Four to five months of isotretinoin treatment usually leads to clearing of acne for one year or more after the medicine is stopped.

What is Accutane?

Accutane is a synthetic vitamin A derivative (13-cis-retinoic acid) that is administered orally in pill form, normally for 15-20 weeks.

How does Accutane clear acne?

Exactly how Accutane works on a cellular level is unknown, but we do know that it affects all of the four ways that acne develops.

  • Accutane dramatically reduces the size of the skin’s oil glands (35%-58%) and even more dramatically reduces the amount of oil the skin produces (around 80%).
  • Acne bacteria (P. Acnes) lives in skin oil. Since oil is so dramatically reduced, so is the amount of acne bacteria in the skin.
  • It also slows down how fast the skin produces skin cells inside the pore which helps pores from becoming clogged in the first place.
  • It displays anti-inflammatory properties.

Who is a candidate for treatment with Accutane?

Accutane is considered for severe acne that has failed other treatments. It is a potent medication that is very effective for severe, scarring acne. Is also used for acne present for many years that has not responded to antibiotic pills and creams. Accutane or generic Isotretinoin medications is never a first choice and should never be “shared” or purchased over the internet without the guidelines of a physician.

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Does Accutane guarantee a cure?

Accutane “cures” about half of patients who take it so that they never have to take anything else for acne. About one in five patients gets a little worse and one in 500 patients gets much worse in the first few weeks of Accutane treatment. The rest either get much better, or better for a while. There is no other known drug that comes close to being as effective for severe acne as Accutane. The usual patient takes it for 4 to 6 months, but some need more and must be “retreated” for an additional 4 to 6 months.

The more Accutane patients take, the greater the chance of long-term cessation of acne. Unfortunately, side effects depend on the dose as well. At the lowest doses, there are few side effects, though pregnancy risk is always a critical consideration. At higher doses, over-drying can occur. Doses are adjusted to strike a balance between effectiveness and side effects.

Common side effects of Accutane

  • Chapped lips (90%), countered by a using Vaseline or Aquaphor as a lip moisturizer
  • Dry skin and itching (80%) helped by frequent moisturizer creams
  • Dryness of nose, mild nosebleed (80%), helped by “AYR nasal gel”
  • Irritation of the eyelids and eyes (40%)
  • Joint and muscle pains (15%)
  • Temporary hair thinning (10%)
  • Rash (7%)
  • Intestinal symptoms (5%)
  • Urinary symptoms (5%)
  • Headache (5%)
  • Increased sensitivity to sun (5%)
  • Decreased night vision (<1%)
  • Depression, thoughts of suicide (<1%)

Patient Requirements for Accutane Use

FDA approval of Accutane requires all patients taking the drug to register with the iPledge program. The program is designed to ensure that patients avoid pregnancy, and links prescriptions to pregnancy tests.

Dr. Sikorski mandates regular blood tests while taking Accutane treatment as Accutane may increase the level of fats in the blood and sometimes to risky levels. The level of fats in the blood goes back to normal when the treatment is stopped. Occasionally it may affect the liver.

Cautionary Advice regarding Pregnancy

It is very important for women not to take Accutane treatment while pregnant. It can cause serious birth defects if Accutane treatment is taken during pregnancy. Women should be careful not to become pregnant while taking it. View Precautionary Advice from Roche Pharmaceutical.

Women who are, or might be, sexually active while taking Accutane must use an effective method of birth control. The most effective method of birth control is the pill as it rarely fails. An additional method of birth control such as a condom for the male partner or a spermicidal foam or sponge is also needed.

Should Dr. Sikorski determine you are a candidate for Accutane, the potential benefits, side effects and all requirements will be discussed.

dr-sikorski-no-border-e1442013331730-2-216x300Your consultation visit

You’ll enjoy a relaxing visit to our cosmetic dermatology office where you can ask questions, meet our staff, take a tour of our office and surgical suite and view additional photo results of our patients.

Your consultation assessment is with Dr. Sikorski, not an impersonal or commissioned salesperson. Fees and procedure preparations are discussed with our patient coordinator, who will detail the surgical experience with you.

We look forward to meeting with you and helping you find the simplest solution to achieve the goals you desire. Call us for more information on acne scars or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sikorski.